Now that the spring semester has begun, I'm getting back to my writing schedule. Paris was lovely and relaxing and good for the soul, but it wasn't my quiet house in Plano where I'm most productive with fiction writing. In December, I did two things that have already started paying off.
First, I joined SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) because I wanted to understand the market for Middle Grade and Young Adult novels. I was a little overwhelmed by the immensity of this group. (It reminded me of the first time I attended the AWP conference in Chicago. I was a guppy in the Pacific Ocean.)
Second, I found a local (North Texas) Critique Partners group through SCBWI. Not two minutes after I paid my dues to join SCBWI, I emailed the leader of the CP group and asked if I could join. I haven't been a member of a CP group since I was in grad school, and frankly, I had no interest in joining one for the past 8 years. But I'm in new literary territory now, and I realized last month how much I need a close, trustworthy community of MG and YA writers. But I was nervous, too. What if they were wack?
I lucked out. I've had a month to critique a few works from my CPs and they've responded to my first few chapters; my CPs rock! I'm so relieved that they understand the nature of critiques, the delicate balance of honesty, tact, and perspective. It doesn't hurt that they're a nice blend of writers: some agented, some with traditionally published books, some new writers. We are seven in all, but because only about four of us are actively submitting at any one time, the critiques are not overwhelming.
I didn't realize how much a good group of CPs could rejuvenate my writerly soul. Now, I'm inspired to go back and tackle those final two chapters that have been haunting me. They're not quite right, but with the feedback from my CPs, I know they'll shape up and turn into something stunning.
I don't know about other writers, but I find that I'm most productive when my plate is impossibly full.
Like "Pancho's" full.
|also from here|
So here's to a New Year (imagine my raised champagne glass): may you always have enough on your plate to keep you active and hungry for more. May you find critique partners who have razor-sharp vision but gentle souls. May you create something that is beautiful to you, and dare to show it to others.